Not only did the sun shine on us for the entire visit, so did the design gods, as I saw enough to keep my status as “She Who Pauses Every Few Steps to Take a Photo.” Luckily, my friends were good sports (and also camera owners).
From big (the Duomo is so big I couldn’t get it all in the frame without serious distortion), to small (a Gessi faucet shaped like stones), I was just as happy to roam around all day playing looky-loo as I had been in Venice. In front of Biblioteca Ambrosiana just blocks from the Duomo, I came across a placard for a walking tour of the area’s buildings of interest. Now I MUST return, as I love walking, history, and “old stuff.” The tour looked like it could take several days, so maybe I should return in the Fall or Spring when it’s not too hot or crowded. No matter, as a friend and I spent the morning in the Brera district, which I totally recommend you explore when you get to Milan.
I was especially looking forward to our visit to sponsor Gessi because I’d heard their showroom was a former movie theater, with an underground secret garden. How cool is all that, especially when Gessi’s bathroom fittings and fixtures focus on private wellness and the in-home spa experience?
After spending most of the day in the sun, my descent into the cool dark of the Gessi showroom was enough to make my shoulders relax. I might have sighed too. Italian hospitality is pretty darn good. I was ushered into a lounge area where the other Design Hounds were seated. The top management people all came out to introduce themselves, and thanked us for coming. Then we were offered coffee (Italian coffee, not vending machine swill that tastes like used motor oil), champagne, water, and prosecco.
This was followed by a demonstration by artist-philosopher Marsel Lesko. He balanced large stones on smaller ones. We also watched a video of Lesko standing in the middle of a river, surrounded by numerous stones that he had balanced. What did this artist have to do with the company, I wondered? As it turns out, this is how Gessi works. Their mission is “to make everyday life more pleasant with objects of extraordinary beauty and functionality.” They want their faucets to be objets d’art, aspiration and decoration, so they look to nature as a source of inspiration.
After the demo we had a tour of the Indonesian, Scandinavian, and Moscow rooms. My favorite (nope, not the Moscow one even though I did Russian Studies at university) was the Scandinavian because it had the simple lines that I like. Besides, the Scandinavians like outdoor exercise and spas; I like outdoor exercise and spas. They value simplicity; I value simplicity. They are all tall and good-looking; I’m… good at side planks.
I considered hiding in the showroom, knowing they had snacks, drinks and running hot water, but we had a farewell pizza dinner to attend, so eventually I came out of the shower (did you know Gessi conceived the first ceiling-mounted faucet) and took the metro home, resisting the urge to slip my number to Marsel.
We’ve gone for the past two years as presenters, and know that this year’s event will be the best one yet.
Want a few teasers?
Oh, yeah, you’ll also have four chances to get your fit on with Kymberly and me. Sis is teaching Abs, Butt, Core, plus hosting a seminar, How Fit Are You, while I’m teaching Drums Alive and speaking about Diet Saboteurs.
Once you’re done looking at those, hop over to the Tenaya Lodge site and register.
It’s just a month away, and we are already doing anticipatory relaxing. Join us. You can even have our whiskey.
All photos courtesy of Tenaya Lodge. And this post is not sponsored. We just want you to join us.
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We just spent a few nights there, and managed to relax and be active simultaneously. The Oaks at Ojai is a small, family-owned spa right in the middle of downtown Ojai. Does that mean it’s busy or noisy? Just the opposite, as Ojai is a mellow town of only 8,000 people. Our totally unscientific guess is that 5,000 of them are artists, and the other 3,000 are hikers and bicyclists.Headed to The Oaks at Ojai? We may join you for a walk, swim, bike ride, massage, meal or retail therapy. @OaksSpa Click To Tweet
Skin Authority Fit & Firm Treatments (Fit & Firm for Fun & Fit – perfect)
Bike Riding on a path that leads all the way to the ocean at Ventura
A sunset meditation on Mount Meditation
Fitness classes (ever tried Glow in the Dark Qi Gong?)
Had 3 meals a day prepared to our specific diet
Played Bingo (though we didn’t win the muffins, dang it)
Made new friends
Visited Bart’s Bookstore (which leaves books outdoors at night – you pay on the honor system)
Lost a little weight
Hiked the Valley View Preserve (with absolutely stunning panoramic views)
We even met a woman who was leaving after a 3-week stay. She said she wanted a place to recuperate and make new friends after going through knee surgery and rehab. Once she got there, she didn’t want to leave. So she didn’t.
We didn’t want to leave either, but it was time to go to L.A. to celebrate our mom’s 86th birthday. The drive to L.A. is just over an hour. From where we live in Santa Barbara it’s only a 45 minute drive, so we’ll be back. Heck, I need to put my brand new bike lock to use, though I never actually locked my bike while we were there. I just parked it in the private patio garden at our bungalow.
Alexandra Williams, MA
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We were not paid to write this post. We were invited guests of the Oaks at Ojai for 2 nights, and boy did we appreciate their hospitality. So much so that I even taught the guests the “Thriller” dance (insert wolf howl right here).
While teaching for a week at Rancho la Puerta Spa in Tecate, Mexico I managed to find a few spots that had wifi so I could share some abdominal moves on video.
The three videos were done in real time via my Periscope account (if you have a Twitter account, you can get a Periscope account), but I saved them so that I could share them now with all of you. They are in portrait mode because Periscope isn’t yet set up for landscape mode, but the info is still 100% legit at any angle!
This video is the perfect place to start if you’re new to a stability ball or just want to ease into ab work:
This video adds an extra element to the video above:
This one adds the challenge of lifting your feet and moving your arms:
As it’s about a kabillion degrees IN THE SHADE here in Santa Barbara, my brain is melted, so I have no clever words. Instead, you get lovely photos from my trip to Tecate, including a BONUS photo of the beach where I grew up – Hermosa Beach. That makes this entire post worth its price – which is zero, of course, but still….
Please follow me on Periscope for travel and fitness scopes (videos): I am at AlexandraFunFit.
As I’m trying to finance our medical coverage (we are no longer covered by work), I’d appreciate your input. I’m thinking of making note cards from some of my photos and selling them. Do you recommend this? If so, any suggestions where to sell them (besides Etsy)? Thanks.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Global Wellness Day is a day to encourage living well. This year it’s on June 13th. The meaning behind it isn’t to celebrate living a high-cost life; it’s to bring attention to living a life of balance and well-being. Founded by Belgin Aksoy of Richmond Nua Wellness-Spa in Turkey, it will be celebrated this year in more than 30 countries on six continents.
At the recent ISPA (lots of spas all in one place, treating us like royalty) event in Beverly Hills, I got a chance to chat with Frank Pitsikalis, Founder and CEO of ResortSuite and one of two Canadian Ambassadors for Global Wellness Day. He told me that it’s a way to complement the traditional health care system in a way that focuses on prevention rather than treatment. “So much of our health care is tertiary, meaning we try to treat a problem after it’s already occurred. Global Wellness Day is looking at primary, preventive care. Why not lead lives that help prevent illness and doctor visits? Life is moving at a record pace, and this is a day to remind and inspire people to live a little more consciously, and turn living well into a way of life.”
Since the goal of the campaign is to spread awareness about the holistic benefits of exercise, healthy nutrition, and mental and emotional wellness, we are all for shouting (in a calming way) it from the spa rooftops. Or something like that. On Saturday, the Global Wellness day ambassadors want you to ask yourself this question, “”How can I live a healthier and better life?”
Pick a card, any card. Do you want to improve your eating habits? Your exercise habits? Your spiritual well-being? Your relationships? What would be the ONE thing you could do on Saturday to live a healthier, better life? Maybe one of the 7 steps recommended by Aksoy:
Walk one hour daily
Drink more water
Eat organic, locally sourced produce
Give up plastic bottles
Do a good deed
Eat a family dinner
Go to bed by 10pm
One of our favorite wellness women, Deborah Szekely, co-founder of Rancho la Puerta resort in Tecate, Mexico, says that having a day dedicated to the benefits of wellness is like having a calling card; it’s an introduction to something enticing that will get you hooked.
We agree with that sentiment. Once you get in the habit of feeling good, dare we say great, in your own body, you will be hooked on a life of wellness.
While we haven’t been (yet) to Istanbul to visit Richmond Nua Wellness-Spa, we definitely have a few spa resorts to recommend. Our faves:
Rancho la Puerta – Tecate, Mexico
Glen Ivy Hot Springs – Corona, California
More to the point, we hope YOU will call your local spa and find out if they’re offering any free or discounted activities or treatments on Saturday. You can also head over to the Global Wellness Day Facebook page and get inspired.
Live it up this Saturday. While you’re at it, Well it up, Relax it up, and Kale it up (heh heh)!
Speaking of healthy living, we want to give a well-massaged thumbs up to Rancho la Puerta, sponsors of our TransformAging Webinar: For Women Over 45 Who Don’t Want to Just Grow Old, But Intend to Age Actively! Six videos with accompanying slides, eight experts, hundreds of hot tips on aging INTO health, not out of it. Click here to learn more and order your set.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
As children, we learned about Ponce de León and the mythical Fountain of Youth. But did you know it actually exists? Not in a creepy, Dorian Gray way either. Every town, every home, and every person has access to the fountain; it’s just known under a different name now. The Fountain of Youth’s true name is …
Ah, ah, ah, don’t get discouraged by that word. You probably thought “easy” when you read “fountain of youth,” and “hard” when you read “exercise.” But what if the path to exercise was much easier than you thought? What if moving and eating better and more appropriately for our midlife years were as easy as the not-so-helpful habits you currently have?
Our TransformAging Webinar Summit is ready to go, and you’re invited to join our 8 experts for this 6-video series that will get you slapping your forehead and saying, “Gee, I could’ve
had a V8 restarted my fitness years ago if I’d realized it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.”
Look below for a few hot tips in the ol’ town tonight that come from the various TransformAging sessions. You’ll get solutions and antidotes for all the Fit Facts below. But first, a few quiz questions to whet your Fountain of Youthiness thirst and appetite:
If you don’t want to be that person spending the last 8 to 9 years of your life ill and in pain, then register for this TransformAging Summit. (If you don’t want to be the caretaker for that person then our webinar series is for you and your loved one). The sooner you take the steps to age actively, the better your upcoming years will be.
So step up to some more of those Fit Facts from the Summit, we say!
In case you didn’t have a chance to read our post giving all the info about the TransformAging Webinar, we’ll list the six video titles again so you can see just how tremendous this FREE (on 6/03 & 6/04) summit is:
Register Right Here – It Costs you $000000 (that’s zero multiplied) for the live broadcast this Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 pm PDT. And don’t worry – if you cannot watch all six at their original broadcast times, you can get them later for a teeny, tiny payment that’s lower than you’d pay for just one of the workouts Debra Atkinson provides in her session. And put all the money you just saved into the vacation kitty for your future dream trip to Rancho la Puerta spa, a health and wellness retreat just east of San Diego. The Perfect Place for People who want to age actively!
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
You SAY you want to start again with a fitness program that is tailored to your midlife body; that you intend to move more often, though comfortably; that you’d love to be strong enough to enjoy the second half of life even more than the first. You now have the chance to put your money where your menopot is!
We recently told you about our TransformAging Webinar Summit for Women Over 45, which is only a week away, on June 3 and 4 starting at 5:30 pm EST/2:30pm PT and accessible for 48 hours at no cost.A Fountain of Youth really does exist, and it’s free to you. Just like this TransformAging Summit that’s sponsored by our long-time friends, Rancho la Puerta Resort. Registration is now open, so sign-up here to join us. So easy. Just like many of the active aging secrets we and 5 other fitness experts will share with you.
Have you thought back to movement you used to do and decided “I need something more attainable and less intense now that I am in my second half of life”? Yet you still want to enjoy all that life has to offer, in a comfortable, sensible way? So have we. As a matter of fact, so many of you have contacted us asking for exactly these sessions, that we gathered up the BEST presenters just for you.
Why stay in one of the 7 circles of hormone and weight gain hell, when you can stroll the labyrinth of a comfortable life? This six-video collection offers practical strategies to make the second half of life as rewarding as the first. Take at gander at the session titles:
If you’re like Chris O’Dowd in Bridesmaids (love that movie), you’re probably saying, “Really? Really?” by now in a sexy Irish accent because you cannot believe we said you could get all 6 videos for free. But we cannot tell a lie (a different movie altogether) – you get them FREE for 48 hours. That’s 2 days (June 3 & 4), 6 videos, 8 experts, and 1 YOU, gaining access to interviews, practical tips, and easy-to-follow strategies geared specifically toward Over-45 Women.
See the picture just below? That’s Alexandra at Rancho la Puerta a few weeks ago. Does that look like strength training? It is. Does it look fun? It was. Movement is fun. Climbing stuff is fun. Eating well is fun. Going to a spa resort with friends is fun. Hiking through the grove shown below is fun. And all of this liveli-fun-ness is accessible to you too, once you make a few simple changes to your daily habits.
Oh excuse me, but isn’t that Kymberly doing an even livelier version of the post-hike, archway hang? And she’ll hang there until you register for our TransformAging Summit. Please hurry and do so as those rocks can be slippery!
Did you Register Right Here yet?
Now you get some lovely pictures taken at Rancho la Puerta, which is about an hour’s drive east of San Diego. We partnered with them because they are the ideal fitness and health resort for Boomer women. Even if you spend all your time lounging at the pool and getting massages, you’ll still get more fit, thanks to two other key components of active aging that the Ranch offers that have nothing to do with exercise or food. .
Let your Inner Fabulosity Bloom. And in case you’re too tired to scroll back up, here is the registration link once again. We invite you to join us on June 3 and 4.
By Alexandra Williams-MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
We Feel So Spa-ritual!
Alexandra and I just returned from presenting at the second Tenaya Spa Wellness Retreat. We also presented at their first event, which we summarized in this post. We may not die with a lot of stuff, but we sure are rich in experiences! For one, who would have thought the gateway to Yosemite would be hiking-sandal weather and nearly snowless in mid-January? For another, who knew that smoked sturgeon tasted delicious when braised in tea?
Anyway, we drove up through sun, drought, and beautiful pine trees to offer two workouts: Drums Alive and ABC: Abs, Butt, Core and two workshops: Most Common Exercises Done Right and Wrong and 7 Movement Habits to Improve Your Brain Today. As presenters, we had the privilege to take part in the entire retreat. That included hearing American Spa magazine editor, publisher, and keynote speaker, Julie Keller Callaghan speak on Top Trends in the spa world.
Job Seekers Apply Here
One of the key points Julie made is that the spa industry is growing. No, make that Exploding. Faster than a hot flash in the middle of a public presentation. As in, if you know people needing career direction, steer them to a resort. It’s not solely baby boomers driving the growth. Just as many people (mostly women, no shocker there) ages 30-50 are going to spas as those 50-70.
Special Can Mean Affordable
I was actually surprised, because, seriously — who has the money to head to spas so often? How can a luxury industry be taking over the wellness world? Turns out one of the trends is what Julie calls “Specialty Solutions,” which are affordable, specific indulgences. If you want just your lashes, hair, or skin treated, you can now find “beauty bars” and express services at mainstream rates, for example. As well, bigger, more expensive spas are branching into shortened and price conscious versions of their traditional offerings. You can now find 3 day or weekend deals at resorts that once were weekly only.
Luxury to Mainstream
Another trend is that the industry is shifting from being considered a luxury to a necessity. More and more of us are heading to the mountains, beaches, jungles, and forests to de-stress, rejuvenate, and catch up on rest. Just as having a personal trainer shifted in the late 90s from the domain of the rich and famous to mainstream middle class clients, so too is the concept of heading to the spa. Because I neeeeeed it!
You Are Feeling Sleepy
A trend Julie coined “Deep Sleep” highlights a solution spa professionals are creating for the 70 million chronically sleep deprived Americans. From having sleep experts on staff to meals devised to enhance relaxation to dream inducing treatments, spas are addressing sleep needs to keep us well and healthy. Budget minded sleepyheads can now nap in special “cabins” that have customizable aromatherapy and sound settings. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzone out for 20-40 minutes for $1 a minute you catnappers!
Get Real, Be Authentic
While American Spa’s editor, Julie covered 10 key trends, I will share just one more big one here: “Keeping It Real.” Spa goers seek authenticity. They — you?– crave experiences unique to a given location. Spas attract guests with ingredients and services indigenous to the region. The Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is right on top of that trend with its treatments. Many of the soaps, skin care products, oils, and scents they use come from local sources.
I did professional research on their authenticity by booking their “Half Dome (half hour) Hiker’s Delight lower leg massage. It was real all right. So real I went for a brief hike afterward just to test out the full foot effect. Worth it for sure! My feet felt so good I could have gone up Half Dome. (Ok, my knees did not work in harmony with this idea). So back I went to the Ascent Spa for my “thank you for presenting gift” of their Signature Firefall Body Treatment, which pays homage to the Yosemite historic firefall when parkgoers used to throw fires over the waterfall. A little dangerous, but I am on board to be a trendsetter for that spa treatment!
And we hope such delight lies in your future and budget. If you have been to spas lately, what trends are you spotting? Which trends do you HOPE kick in so you can take advantage of this booming industry? As for my sister and me, we hope our trend of presenting and teaching at such glorious places continues into the future. I want to be Spa-tacus. Yes, I’m Spa-tacus!
Can you really look 5 pounds thinner in less than 5 minutes? Get our free booklet when you enter your email in the box to the right. If you are already a subscriber, tell your friends. Friends don’t let friends age without sharing active advice.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Can you believe that I get to celebrate my 56th birthday with my dear friend from Texas (yee haw!) at Rancho la Puerta fitness resort?! Meantime twinster, Alexandra gets to work at home. Awwwwww. Go ahead feel sorry for her as I did get the better end of that stick! Courtesy of twin friends who teach at the Ranch, I was invited as their guest to stay the week at the place voted numero uno in the mundo for Best Destination Spa. To top off the birthday specialness, one of my favorite authors, Dr. John Ratey, whom sis and I interviewed for our radio show, was presenting at the Ranch this same week. Oh yes, people, I did bring my copy of his new book, Go Wild for him to sign. He even dripped sweat on it as we had just finished an indoor cycling workout. Geek squeak!
Anyway, the point of this birthday brou-ha-ha is to tell you that this post will be short on text; long on photos. I mean, who wants to spend her b-day on a laptop writing long posts when Rancho la Puerta hikes, aqua workouts, exercise classes, meditation walks, and organic foods call. Not I, said the little red(headed) hen.
May you enjoy the pics below depicting me picturesquely, if not fully picaresquely.
So how do you plan to celebrate your next birthday?
What was your best birthday yet?
On our birthday list? Having you help spread the word about being active! Please pin the images, and:
2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
First of all, two of our long-standing favorite spas were in attendance, Rancho la Puerta and Glen Ivy Hot Springs, which has hosted our Christmas family get-together the past two years. (For more on Rancho la Puerta, read our review from last summer). At Thursday’s event, Glen Ivy Spa had a labyrinth you could walk (I didn’t, as I am terrible at being contemplative), plus they sent me home with lavender honey and a recipe for lavender honey muffins, which were popular with some family members; and not so much with the younger set!!
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group gave me a Calm Mind massage, with a focus on my Chinese dominating element of Flourish. This was perfect timing, as I mentioned I was fighting a bit of light vertigo, so the massage therapist worked to loosen up my very tight neck and jaw. I went away less dizzy, which made me very grateful. According to their recommendations, raspberries are one of my healing foods, which suits me perfectly.
I then had a Vitamin C Infusion mini facial from Massage Envy. They are ubiquitous in California and I was surprised to discover they are only eight years old! The woman who gave me my facial looked about 25, yet mentioned a college-aged daughter. Crikey, after that, I told her to do the same to my skin as she was doing to hers. I wish I had taken her picture, as she really did look 20 years younger than she is.
At the Oaks at Ojai booth, I made my very own Italian seasoning, AND met Sheila Cluff, the owner/ founder, who also happens to be a prolific author, fitness icon and ice skater. She’s been in the fitness biz longer than I have! I also stopped at the Matrix booth and test “walked” their latest technology treadmill. I rarely use a treadmill since I love group fitness so much, and find them boring, but this one had lots to keep me occupied, including movies on demand. Mostly I enjoyed chatting with the rep Doug, as he had on crazy blue patterned shoes, mismatched multi-colored socks, and an orange patterned shirt. He said everyone over 50 gets to dress as they please, and age in reverse like Benjamin Button, so I adopted him. A little plug here for fitness – exercise keeps you young. Actually, it can reverse aging in some cases (think dementia, metabolic syndrome, intelligence).
Since fitness is our game, and soccer legs are my, er, legs, I happily hopped on the Travaasa bike and pedaled my way to a kale smoothie. I don’t like chunks in my drinks, so I pedaled till it was smooth. Or till I reached Austin, Texas, where they have a resort! Either way.
New to me was the Sacred Waters massage, which I got from Aspira Spa of Wisconsin. The spa is on a lake considered sacred by its native peoples, and the plants and methods used in the massage were warm and smelled great. The 15 minutes went by way too quickly. I had to feign sleep. They were on to me. Ah, well. Good excuse to visit Wisconsin again.